Applause for Darwin

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Applause for Darwin was even sparer from scientists across the Channel, with the notable exception of the Belgian geologist J. J. d’Omalius d’Halloy, who, as it happened, had subscribed from the beginning to Louis Agassiz’ s glacial theory as well, and whose Terrain Cretace was the discovery ground for the worldwide Cretaceous system. In the United States, by contrast with Europe, geologists, biologists-the scientific community at large-were for the most part quick supporters and early participants in the sweep of evolution. In the United States, also, there was a notable exception. He was Professor Louis Agassiz, of Harvard University. He had crossed the Atlantic and given a few lectures. He stayed for the rest of his life. He became, as he has remained, one of the most celebrated professors in the history of American education. It was a renown that rested largely on his amazing and infectious capacity for talking about ice. Never mind that he could not speak schoolroom English. His words drew pictures of glaciers in motion, many thousands of feet thick and larger by far than the Sahara. His words drew pictures of glacier ice over Boston, in the act of depositing Cape Cod; of glacier ice over Bridgeport, in the act of depositing Long Island; of ice retreating from Concord, leaving Walden Pond. Harvard was, at core, a drumlin, a glacial coprolite, packed in recessional outwash. America excited Agassiz, as well it might, for it had held the greater co-working space utrecht part of the ice he had dreamed of, covering the world. He went to Lake Superior and paddled its shoreline in a bark canoe. The features he saw there he had known in N euchatel. He went to the Hudson Highlands and remembered the highlands of the Rhine. ”The erratic phenomena and the traces of glaciers . . . everywhere cover the surface of the country,” he wrote. “Polished rocks, as distinct as possible; moraines continuous over large spaces; stratified drift, as on the borders of the glacier of Grindelwald.” He went to the Connecticut Valley: “TheĀ co-working space rotterdam erratic phenomena are also very marked in this region; polished rocks everywhere, magnificent furrows on the sandstone and on the basalt, and parallel moraines defining themselves like ramparts upon the plain ….W hat a country is this! All along the road between Boston and Springfield are ancient moraines and polished rocks.

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